During lockdown, Sam Grant – part of the godlike (or more appropriately, hellish), Sabbathian riff-age of Pigs x7, and also studio engineer at Newcastle’s Blank Studios – gave birth to Rubber Oh firstly as a pure and unfettered personal creative outlet between recording the myriad bands at his studio. Rubber Oh’s celestial jouissance was conjured in direct contrast to the appropriately bestial, aforementioned Iommi-esque riff-world of Grant’s main band, flourishing exclusively on single notes on the guitar, a thick bed of bass with two bass guitarists, a complete absence of cymbal wash, and synth magnificence.
Although Grant performed most of the part, various friends also brought Rubber Oh to spectacular life: Pigs’ Chris Morley on drums plus frontman Matt Baty and Du Blonde’s Beth Jeans Houghton amid the backing vocalists.
Besides equalling his other band in terms of names (a pretty mean feat), the Pigs x7 guitarist’s new project also rivals – and at times bests – the sludgy rock group in musicality, melody, creativity.
Strange Craft, in the excellent application of it’s style to it’s topical matters, addresses a rich exploration of AI through the sci-fi, retro video-games sound, and the oxymoron presented by the opening track’s analysis of Humans and their potentially looming superior race. This continues with the vibrant gurgle of arcade sounds bookending ‘Arcade’; a joyously startling but fitting blast of exuberance perfectly at home with the album’s plethora of synths and the overall psych-pop gold.
Although a seemingly sharp left turn for Grant from Pigs x7, Rubber Oh has a similar melodic sheen, which underscored the neo-heavy rock titans’ latest LP (2020’s Viscerals) especially. Here, this is a gloriously sugary, hyper-accentuated melodicism, possibly even more refined than the slight poppy-ness the sludge rockers meld into their sound.
In this, the melodicism is stretched to it’s deliciously sweet limit with sprinklings of ‘repetition, repetition, repetition’ to enormously great effect. This is at it’s clearest and ripest on the technicolour, beautiful synaesthesia of instrumental To Be A Mariner.
There is also a constant, ear-seducing thrall in the thudding double-pronged bass hitting like tectonic tremors throughout.
Strange Craft’s vast sonic ecosphere – an array of electronics and an overall hugeness – has an utterly innate bouncing, hypnotic jive, especially as Grant’s vocals rhythmically splice in tandem with these staggeringly rapturous beats.
The debut album from Rubber Oh combines nigh infinite catchiness with a luxurious spaciness to the production and generally epic noises; allowing room for both Grant’s distinctive song-craft and stylistic ideas; beside the listener’s own thoughts.
Released June 3rd on Rocket Recordings. Buy Strange Craft here.